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Description (via inside cover)
 A soucouyant is an evil spirit in Caribbean folklore, and a symbol here of the distant and dimly remembered legacies that continue to haunt the Americas. This extraordinary first novel set in Ontario, in a house near the Scarborough Bluffs, focuses on a Canadian-born son who despairingly abandons his Caribbean-born mother suffering from dementia.

The son returns after two years to confront his mother but also a young woman who now mysteriously occupies the house. In his desire to atone for his past and live anew, he is compelled to imagine his mother's life before it all slips into darkness―her arrival in Canada during the early sixties, her childhood in Trinidad during World War II, and her lurking secret that each have tried to forget.

Luminously poetic, Soucouyant marks the arrival of a major new literary talent in Canada.

My Impressions
This review in my local paper introduced me to the book and made me put it on my to-read list. Here's an excerpt of the review.

"Chariandy isolates the disturbing elements of racism Canadian style, which most writers find so difficult to express. He exposes the malicious laughter – nasty snorts, muffled giggles, mean smirks – as among the most dehumanizing of racist behaviours.

This is a wonderful novel, one that feels special to me because I know exactly where it takes place, just about four miles west along the lakeshore from my childhood home. It is the first novel I have read about a black child, like me, growing up in my area, and it strikes me as utterly true."

I was immediately interested because I know where this takes place too but not when. I was maybe 2 or 3 during the time when the majority of this story is set but that's also when my immigrant parents were making a life for themselves in the same city, my hometown, for better or worse. The subject matter is difficult to read at times - the author doesn't shy away from the details of racism, poverty, taking care of a loved one with dementia and there are potentially triggering events too - but this was really a wonderfully written book and highly recommended.


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January 2013

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